I've been thinking of other ways to get you to go green. Here they are in no particular order.
1.) First, try cloth napkins at meals. We stopped using paper towels and napkins some time ago. Pier One and Crate & Barrel have nice ones for adults, and for the kids, I did a search on Etsy for something cute & fun. Try these or even these. All I did was go to http://www.etsy.com/ and do a search for "kids cloth napkins." There are TONS to choose from. I just bought these for the girls, as their birthday is approaching and they are addicted to Olivia.
2.) Think about new uses for old things. For example, I save a lot of our old cottage cheese, margarine, and sour cream containers. I run them through the dishwasher. I use them for storing leftovers. I give them to the girls for use in their play kitchen. I use them for organizing small things like paper clips, rubber bands, and even the girls' barrettes. I use them as portable containers for water for the dog when we're at the park or on the go, etc.
3.) Be energy efficient: in the summer, keep your blinds and curtains closed to block out the sun & heat of day, and therefore keep your home cooler without using as much AC. In the winter, do the opposite to help warm your home. Use your ceiling fans to circulate air. Consider lowering your thermostat and piling on some sweaters and an extra blanket in the winter. Turn off the lights & tv when you leave a room. And realize that just because something isn't on doesn't mean you're conserving energy. I regularly unplug things like the toaster oven, the coffee maker, the girls' nightlight, my hair dryer, cell phone charger, etc. If it is plugged in, it is sucking up energy!
4.) Recycle/reuse old gift bags, tissue paper, & bows. Use the Comics to wrap gifts if you must. Or just tie some pretty ribbon around it and call it a day. When you're making purchases, say "No thanks" when the store employee automatically tries to wrap your purchases in tissue paper. And by now you'd better have your own bags to put all your groceries, gifts & goodies into! If not, enter my Go Green Giveaway # 2 here!
5.) Did you know your dryer is more energy efficient when it's already warm from use? In other words, it's better for the planet (and your bills!) if you dry several loads of laundry in a row rather than spreading the love throughout the week.
6.) Wash all of your clothes on cold water. Period. Not only is it better for the environment and your utility bill, but it's better for your clothes---less fading and color loss, less shrinkage!
7.) Opt for environmentally-friendly detergents, soaps, and cleansers. I've mentioned before that I really love Mrs. Meyers products (Geranium scent is my favorite, especially in her soy candles) as well as Method products. Seventh Generation is also good.** Mrs. Meyers is offering FREE SHIPPING on all orders placed on 11/30/09! What a great time to try some out!**
8.) Go to www.catalogchoice.org and register for a FREE account to stop all your junk mail. Then you can enter all the catalogs you don't want to receive (STOP them all, you can shop on-line and save some trees!). It will take a little time to enter everything (enter them as you receive them, that is the best way---it is quickest and easiest when you have the key codes & customer numbers handy on the back of your catalogs) and it will take a few weeks for the catalog companies to get the message and stop sending, but once it stops, WOW! Such a reduction in junk mail!
Now go forth and BE GREEN! Remember: baby steps at first. Do what you can a little bit at a time. If you set out to do it all at once, you're setting yourself up for failure. No one is perfect. Not even me. Hee hee! Everything you manage to do goes a long way, everything counts. Mother Earth will love you for it!